Report against judges highlights misconduct from the bench

Of 31 complaints filed against Supreme Court justices, none were found to be accurate.

By
June 7, 2017 23:39
1 minute read.
JCC bomb threat

An US-Israeli teen who was arrested in Israel on suspicion of making bomb threats against Jewish community centers in the United States, Australia and New Zealand is seen at a remand hearing at Magistrate's Court in Rishon Lezion, Israel on March 23, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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“No committing suicide in court,” a judge told a defendant in one example of problematic conduct by judges featured in the report published on Wednesday by Eliezer Rivlin, the judiciary’s ombudsman.

The judge was responding to a defendant who was angry with the result in his case and was verbally threatening both the court and his own life. Ultimately, the report concluded that even though the defendant was out-of-line the judge’s comment was unprofessional and created an “impression that could unnecessarily increase the alienation felt by the defendant.”

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In the same case, according to Rivlin, the judge responded to the defendant’s plea for “justice” by saying “courts just make legal decisions, justice is for the stars.”

The report criticized the judge for giving the impression that the courts are unjust, even as it admitted that courts are bound by rules of procedure and cannot always dole out pristine justice in its most absolute sense.

This was just one of numerous examples of complaints about judicial conduct that were found to be accurate.

Nevertheless, the report stated that the overall rate of complaints against judges found to be accurate out of total complaints filed and resolved dropped to 14%, or 76, in 2016 from 18% in 2015, even as the overall number of complaints against judges jumped 8% from 824 in 2015 to 890 in 2016.

Of 31 complaints filed against Supreme Court justices, none were found to be accurate.

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Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked praised the report for strengthening the public’s faith in the legal system, saying the increase in the number of complaints to the ombudsman testified to the public’s view that the ombudsman is an “effective tool for probing complaints.”

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